Now you just know that I can throw all kinds of superlatives at you guys, but I can be brief as well. This is the Radeon R9-290X we all expected it to be, period.
Sufficient cooling, extreme performance, silent and tweakable are the key-words here. And hey it comes factory clocked faster then reference and it is a good chunk cheaper than a GTX 780 Ti as well as you get more graphics memory (4GB). NICE ! Having that much raw unadulterated horsepower under the hood will bring options to the table. You play your games at 2560x1440 and flick on every quality setting that you can think of. Even then the cards will do a terrific job. For the few of you that already made the step towards UHD or 4K gaming at 3840 x 2160 that where these card do make sense. The ASUS Radeon R9 290X DirectCU II OC edition is often as fast or faster then a GeForce GTX 780 Ti and certainly faster then a Titan, whilst it is going to be priced a good chunk lower. So that in retrospect means (even at this price level) performance for money. Prices will sit at 499~539 EUR (incl VAT for this rather shweeeeet graphics card).
Cooling & Noise Levels
Where the reference cooled products are to be considered really average, the DirectCU II does make its promises worthwhile on everything. ASUS applied their latest revision of the DirectCU II cooling solution. This revision is a dual-slot solution looks great. The PCB is customized and I can spot merely quality components, lovely. The looks, well for the cooler in its all black design you yourself get to decide whether or not to apply colored stickers. But yeah, all black is an option as well. We applied the red ones. Two subtle and silent fans combined with a hint of red makes this a good looking package alright. Great looking and very sturdy I must state as well, there is a metal plate at the top of the card so the card can not bend when seated horizontally in the PC. We measured a top stress temperature of 77 Degrees C on the card, coming from 94 Degrees C on the reference coolers that is rather sweet. Next to that, the card remains to be silent. So that is simply put a massive improvement over the reference cards.
As a result of the cooling temperatures these cards hardly downclock either, so no longer a worry either anymore. The tiny dips are scene changes and me taking a screenshot in the background.
We expected far worse, power consumption is not bad but again not good either, the card is rated by us having a 290 Watt TDP. That is high but in perspective, it is 30 to 40 Watts away from Titan. So that definitely could have been worse. I think enthusiast consumers at this performance level will not mind that much about the power draw and be forgiving. That 290 Watt TDP also will make running multi-GPU solutions a bit more complicated. With two card we think an 800~900 Watt PSU would be sufficient. So yeah, it's not great to have a GPU consuming that much power, but it could have been a lot worse.
The AMD R9 290X in most scenarios will be performing roughly at Titan or GeForce GTX 780 Ti like performance, that it pretty kick ass for just one GPU with a nicer price-tag. Realistically I should be comparing towards the GeForce GTX 780. Don't forget that you will receive a free copy of Battlefield 4 as well with certain SKUs. Performance wise really there's not one game that won't run seriously good at either of the cards, and that is at the very best image quality settings. And you do it all with a nice 30" monitor of course, at 2560x1440/1600. I mean BioShock infinite at Ultra quality levels is still oozing out 60+ FPS there. Or what about Hitman Absolution with 67+ FPS at 2560x1600 High quality and 2xMSAA? It's really nice performance. And especially for those with Ultra High Definition gaming in mind, the 290/290X will make sense setup in Crossfire. That would be a sweet spot and you'd have 4 GB of graphics memory per GPU.
Overclocking then, a thing or two have changed, the new boost modes for example. However, in the current design with normal cooling levels you can reach close to 1200 MHz on the GPU. The memory can be clocked just above 6000 MHz (effective). Overall that brings the card another 5 to 10% performance when compared to reference clock frequencies. It is a fairly nice tweak, also I must note that ASUS factory overclocks the card a bit to 1050 MHz on the GPU core and 5400 MHz on the memory.
A bit of a warning, it seems that AMD still automatically apply the overclock at startup. be careful with that? Push it too far and with the settings pre-applied, there is a possibility that the card would crash during Windows bootup/start. So be sure that you know what you are doing.
Products like the ASUS Radeon R9 290X DirectCU II OC is the gear we have been waiting for. After a few weeks reporting on the temps and problems related to it, we feel AMD made an average choice with the reference coolers of the 290X, I mean it's a great card but the 94 Degrees C temperature target is a hint troublesome. The ASUS Radeon R9 290X DirectCU II OC however eliminates all that thanks to the DirectCU II cooler. In fact you'll even have more reserve to actually be able to actually overclock the card. A pure win in my opinion. In the end products like shown today will make the entire enthusiast segment will go down a little in pricing. I expect that in the first weeks after the release of this product the pricing will be over inflated due to high demand and low stock, but then once DirectCU II sits at 499 EUR, that is where it will make the difference. As such we can only conclude that the ASUS Radeon R9 290X DirectCU II OC is seriously attractive product, with its great volume of 4GB graphics memory and raw rendering performance it will surely offer you an extensive amount of gaming performance into your PC. The heat levels, and noise levels are no longer a trade-off and effectively have been eliminated. That makes the card a serious contender against NVIDIA's line-up.
Yeah, it's the 290X that are custom cooled that will make the difference, this ASUS Radeon R9 290X DirectCU II OC is a perfect example of what the 290 and 290X really needs to be. As such the ASUS Radeon R9 290X DirectCU II OC edition is very nice, recommended and totally approved by Guru3D.com
Oh and try to imaging this card in a 100 EUR cheaper 'regular' 290 revision that is merely a small notch slower - yummie ;)
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